Everyone knows the power of marketing. It influences the decisions we make, the products we love, and how we learn about the world. And it is, of course, a crucial element of successful event and conference planning.
Done correctly, marketing has helped our clients exceed their goals related to attendee retention, bringing in new followers, and attracting speakers, sponsors, and exhibitors.
Coterie Spark always recommends that clients strategize for pre-, on-site, and post-event messaging. Here we break down best practices for pre-event marketing for an optimal experience for attendees and hosts.
The Planning Stage
Let’s start with the basics: What are your goals? What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to attend? What do you want them to say about your event when it’s over? These are critical questions for developing a cohesive and successful marketing campaign.
Once you know the answers to the basic questions, it’s time to dig deeper. Which platforms will you use to reach your attendees before, during, and after the event? It’s important to have these tools (including a logo, color palette, and even font choices) set up and ready to go before you send out your first message.
Set Up Your Information Hub
And the most crucial tool in pre-planning? The conference website. Have the basic design ready to go, and as soon as the venue is booked, make that information available on a user-friendly space that’s easy to navigate. Whether it’s a microsite or a dedicated conference page on your company’s website, it’s crucial to have one centralized place where people can find the answers they need.
Remember that conference emails and social media will always link back to the website as the information hub. Registration information, agendas, hotel information, speakers and recognition to sponsors— it should all be easily accessible on the website.
Share Your Save the Date
Sending a save the date as soon as possible gives attendees the opportunity to be in the know and get the event on their calendars. This should be done as soon as a landing page is in place with basic event information (keep in mind that the full event website probably won’t be finished before save the dates are sent—the most important thing is having a place attendees know they can go to get the information they need).
The best way to spread the word is via email lists and on social media. One note: we don’t recommend sending save the date information until the venue is fully locked down—you don’t want to confuse attendees with a date change if your preferred dates aren’t available.
When save the dates are in potential attendees’ inboxes, it’s time to dive into the registration process and market why people should attend. Throughout pre-planning, highlight themes that showcase different parts of the conference and what attendees will take away from the experience. Keep in mind that having clear, concise reasons makes it easy for potential attendees to sell their organization’s decision makers on why they should go.
Make sure to highlight speakers, sponsors, or exhibitors as they come aboard (and don’t forget to tag them on social media!), which adds value and builds excitement as the event gets closer.
Master the “Know Before You Go”
Finally, it’s important that attendees know what to expect and feel comfortable when they arrive. Consider what you would need or want to know for a smooth arrival in a totally new place. “Know before you go” emails are a good way to condense this information for guests, and we recommend sending these out a couple of times: from two weeks to two days before the conference to make sure it doesn’t get lost in an attendees’ email.
Don’t stop at emails, though. Social media is a great way to attract new guests, gain attention, and build hype for the event. You can increase exposure across social media sites by asking your partners, employees, and committee members to share event details. For those with email firewalls, social media is another avenue to find information and communicate through comments, which can create a sense of community prior to the event. Many attendees like to know who will be there so they can set up one-on-one meetings during the conference.
As the event approaches, increase the frequency of your messaging, and make sure there’s a clear point of contact for anyone with questions. This can go a long way to ease concerns for attendees, especially first-timers.
Need help strategizing your event and conference marketing efforts? Contact us today to learn more about how Coterie Spark can help you achieve your goals, and keep an eye out for upcoming blogs on onsite and post-event marketing, coming soon.